Anytime the topic of deteriorating vision comes up, Guns & Ammo’s offices are flooded with letters and emails. This condition affects more of you than any other subject. Some suffer from astigmatism, cataracts, glaucoma, optic nerve and retinal disorders, macular degeneration, refractive errors and side effects from diabetes. We continue to research this issue as it applies to shooting, but a universal solution doesn’t exist.
Many shooters experience difficulty aiming at around 40 years of age if nearsightedness has set in. Nearsighted shooters may be able to see up-close objects clearly but lose clarity at distances. Examining fellow shooters with nearsightedness revealed that many see clearly between a few inches beyond their nose to an average of 17 inches.
To put nearsightedness in perspective, Guns & Ammo invited several test subjects of different experience levels to participate in an evaluation of available handgun sight options. The test evaluated white, three-dot sights; a dot up front and a U-notch in the rear; a dot only up front and a blacked-out rear; fiber optic sights at the front and rear, and fiber optic sights at the front only. We also examined performance using pistols with red dots and the Meprolight FT Bullseye.
For now, I can say that some of the nearsighted shooters with uncorrected vision shot worse with a slide longer than 4 inches because the front sight appeared blurry when the shooter’s arms were extended. This was further complicated by flanking dots or U-shaped outlines on the rear, which appeared sharper than the front. The nearsighted shooter’s focus tended to be on the rear sight that was better focused, and they didn’t realize the uneven gaps surrounding the blurred sight up front. A blurred front sight produces inconsistent accuracy beyond 7 yards. Dot sights require horizontal alignment with the front sight as well as even gaps around the front sight and leveling on top. This is the more challenging sight alignment configuration.
Better results can be had using a dot or fiber optic up front and a U-shaped or square notch in the rear. This type of sight is easier and faster to align than the three-dot system because the shooter intuitively nests the dot within the outlined notch. Blacked-out rear sights are also better than the three-dot system.
Though red dots can improve speed and accuracy, shooters with years of experience using traditional iron sights experienced more difficulty transitioning to a red dot until hundreds of repetitions are performed. For near sighted shooters, its location at the rear of the slide placed the red dot closer to focus regardless of slide length.
An interesting solution for nearsighted shooters is the Meprolight FT Bullseye (meprolight.com, $85 to $150). It is a tritium and fiber-optic-powered green or red optic that appears as a front-sight dot centered within a rear ring. It’s a clever illusion because you are looking at a rear window at the back of the sight. Both the dot and ring of the FT Bullseye appeared in focus for nearsighted shooters. Available as an accessory that dovetails into the rear sight cut of many makes and model pistols, SIG Sauer has championed this product by installing it into the slide of the P365 SAS.
With the FT Bullseye, there is no need for a front sight, so there’s one less snag point. With the P365 SAS, it is installed within a low cut that levels the slide top smooth. If you’re a nearsighted shooter, allow me to suggest that you examine this pistol or innovative sight. The SIG Sauer P365 is the only pistol offered with a traditional sight setup, a mini red dot and the Meprolight FT Bullseye.